WATER BALLOON

Our day off yesterday was a quiet affair. I hooked up with a windsurfing friend and drummer, Tim Ortlieb from Hood River and Ezzy Sails. He was keeping an eagle eye on the wind situation and early morning it was looking good as a 40mph gentle breeze was blowing. Unfortunately the situation became ‘frontal’ which in these parts kills the wind and it becomes fickle. It wasn’t going to happen. A real drag as I so rarely get a chance to sail the Gorge. Maybe next time. However, it was great to hang with Tim and his lovely wife Layne, have dinner chatting about windsurfing sails and nuclear wind! Geeky enough? We went to a Southern food restaurant called The Screen Door, it’s famous for its fried Chicken. It was heavenly and together with a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir did me no favours in the waistline department. More gym work required.

Show day was going to be a long one. Our first ‘3 cities in a day’ day. The hour and 45 minute flight down into Utah made me realise the distance the crew buses travelled yesterday whilst we were luxuriating on a day off. The weather was not looking good. Rain and possible thunderstorms were in the forecast and this evening’s show is outdoors. We were collected from the steps of the plane – this is always exciting to me, another airport terminal building successfully avoided – by a team of local drivers, the lead car being the infamous Lincoln Town Car. I don’t know what car designers were thinking back then. And by back then I mean the ’80’s. The sedan was well established back then as the epitome of what Americans expected from a luxury car. These days of course when it is compared to an S class Mercedes it falls by the wayside in dramatic fashion. On the road it displays all the handling qualities of huge water-filled balloon, it’s a miracle it can actually negotiate corners at all. As a back-seat passenger, one feels genuinely fearful. Still our driver, who was pleasant enough – genuinely – managed to get us to the venue in one piece by means of erratic steering movements and wah-wah throttle application.

The crew had enjoyed a fun afternoon dealing with rain falling onto the stage, reaching the risers and with every shower, the wind kicked up which meant the protective covers were in action. This was the theme for the whole evening and although we were spared the worst of what looked like a big thunderstorm, we definitely caught its edge and it rained pretty much throughout the show. Not that the audience seemed to mind at all. They were well togged up and seemed to be having a great time. Cold and wet, they were extraordinarily loud at the end of the show and didn’t appear to want us to leave. But leave we had to and back to the plane we headed with Debbie preparing Buffalo Wings – a band favourite – and a case of lovely Oregon Pinot Noirs waiting. A word about the wine. I had the good fortune to receive an invitation for a tasting at the Sokol Blosser winery, just outside Portland. Unfortunately for one reason and another, we never managed to get out there but Russ Rosner and vineyard founder Susan Sokol Blosser came to the hotel with a tasting case. It was great to meet them as we had been looking forward to the visit. The wine was divine at 30,000 feet and would presumably be stunning at sea level. I will find out in a few days on a day off.

We flew over Las Vegas (below) and on in to Van Nuys airport, I reminisced as I always do about my time spent here in the valley with Laurie and was excited as she has just flown in from England and was waiting for me at our favourite beachfront hotel.